Moving Past Caregiver Burnout: The Mind-Body Connection
Posted May 17 2012 12:29pm
Sometimes there’s no way around it. You have to keep going. Your loved one needs you and maybe you’re the only one or the main one. You may spend weeks beside their hospital bed or have to drive or fly back and forth if you’re a long distance caregiver. You’re beyond exhaustion and see no way out. No wonder it leads to caregiver burnout.
That’s where I am right now. Run down, sore throat, desperately needing to listen to what my body is screaming at me, “I need a &#_%&ing break!”
I hope to share a few things I’ve learned that you might be able to use in order to get your through a rough time–and I plan on taking my own advice!
The Mind-Body Connection:
Pace yourself. Is this as bad as it can get? If not, and I hate to say this, prepare for more. Realize that you have to have some reserve for whatever is up ahead.
Take off your cape. Your super-caregiver cape, that is. Admit you can’t do it all. Go to bed. Call it a day. Trust that your loved one will be okay for a few hours while you get the rest you so desperately need.
Let good enough be good enough. When the circuit breakers start popping (that’s what I call it when things start falling apart) then it ‘s time to let a few things go. Don’t change the sheets in the middle of the night, just put a clean one under them, switch to paper plates and cups and let the rest of the dishes pile up for a few days–it’s not the end of the world. Nap instead of clean. Do a quick baby towelette wipe instead of a bath. Let some things slide.
Ask your body to go just a little more. Ask it out loud. If you really have to get through a few more days, then ask. Ask it to go without sleep, without healthy nourishment, without down time–but then promise you’ll make up for it. Promise–and be specific–that rest is indeed coming.
Thank your body for all it’s done. Treat it well when you can. Give it some crisp fresh veggies, a healthy smoothie, a second nap. Rub your own aching muscles with some essential oils and thank those corn and bunion tired old feet for all they do for you.
Ask your body and your spirit to rebound after a traumatic time. If you’ve really been through it lately, ask gently for your body to regenerate itself. That’s what it’s made to do–to regenerate, to create new cells, new blood, and start over. But who wants to do all that if you’re never appreciated, if you’re not asked to. If it’s just assumed that you will? Ask.
Try what I call my “three-day cure.” That’s when I go nowhere for three whole days. I lay low. Do only what feels right–and sometimes that’s being couch bound for longer than I expected, but when I do this I find that eventually joy and energy will return.
I hope these ideas help.
Now, I’m asking my body to go once again, but I’m promising that after this one last thing, we get to rest. I heard that instead of blaming everything and everybody else that we have to realize that we do more damage to our own souls when we don’t keep our word, when we let ourselves down, than when anybody else does. I truly believe that. It’s time to honor my own word. How can I ever care for anyone else if that care, that filling, that nurturing doesn’t start with me?